Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Wave character of individual molecules revealed

Date:
March 28, 2012
Source:
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
Summary:
Quantum theory describes the world of atoms very precisely. Still, it defies our macroscopic conception of the everyday world due to its many anti-intuitive predictions. The wave-particle dualism probably is the best known example and means that matter may spread and interfere like waves. Now, scientists have recorded the interference process of individual molecules. "Seeing how the interference pattern develops with every light spot, molecule after molecule, and how a basic principle of quantum mechanics is visualized enhances our understanding of the atomic world," explains one of the researchers.

These are selected frames of a movie showing the buildup of a quantum interference pattern from single phthalocyanine molecules.
Credit: Image credits: University of Vienna/Juffmann et al. (Nature Nanotechnology 2012)

Quantum theory describes the world of atoms very precisely. Still, it defies our macroscopic conception of the everyday world due to its many anti-intuitive predictions. The wave-particle dualism probably is the best known example and means that matter may spread and interfere like waves. Now, an international team of researchers has recorded the interference process of individual molecules.

Related Articles


The recordings were published by the journal Nature Nanotechnology online.

"Seeing how the interference pattern develops with every light spot, molecule after molecule, and how a basic principle of quantum me-chanics is visualized enhances our understanding of the atomic world," explains Professor Marcel Mayor, who conducts research and teaches at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the University of Basel.

For the experiment performed in cooperation with colleagues from the universities of Vienna and Tel Aviv, Mayor synthesized fluores-cent phtalocyanin molecules having an atomic mass of up to 1298 AMU and consisting of up to 114 atoms. Then, the molecules were accelerated, sent as a slow beam through an optical grating, and deposited on the entrance vacuum window, where they were excited to fluoresce by a laser. For a period of 90 minutes, a fluorescence microscope observed the build-up of the interference pattern. Its setup has a sufficient sensitivity to exactly locate every individual molecule on the window with a precision of about 10 nanometers.

In the future, the setup might be used to study the so-called van-der-Waals interaction between molecules in the beam and those in the grating, which is reflected rather sensitively by the interference pattern. Researchers are also interested in finding out from which size and under which conditions particles behave quantum mechanically or classically, i.e. in the so-called decoherence. These findings may be the basis for novel applications, such as quantum computers. "But the many insights given by this experiment into the quantum world and its boundaries already are of high value," Mayor agrees with many experts, among others Bum Suk Zhao and Wieland Schöllkopf from the Fritz Haber Institute, Berlin, who evaluate the experiment in the accompanying comment article in the same journal.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Thomas Juffmann, Adriana Milic, Michael Müllneritsch, Peter Asenbaum, Alexander Tsukernik, Jens Tüxen, Marcel Mayor, Ori Cheshnovsky, Markus Arndt. Real-time single-molecule imaging of quantum interference. Nature Nanotechnology, 2012; DOI: 10.1038/NNANO.2012.34
  2. Bum Suk Zhao, Wieland Schöllkopf. Fundamental physics: Molecules star in quantum movie. Nature Nanotechnology, 2012; DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2012.44

Cite This Page:

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. "Wave character of individual molecules revealed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 March 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120328090828.htm>.
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. (2012, March 28). Wave character of individual molecules revealed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120328090828.htm
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. "Wave character of individual molecules revealed." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120328090828.htm (accessed October 30, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm Restores Amputee Dexterity

Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm Restores Amputee Dexterity

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 29, 2014) — A Swedish amputee who became the first person to ever receive a brain controlled prosthetic arm is able to manipulate and handle delicate objects with an unprecedented level of dexterity. The device is connected directly to his bone, nerves and muscles, giving him the ability to control it with his thoughts. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robots Get Funky on the Dance Floor

Robots Get Funky on the Dance Floor

AP (Oct. 29, 2014) — Dancing, spinning and fighting robots are showing off their agility at "Robocomp" in Krakow. (Oct. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Saharan Solar Project to Power Europe

Saharan Solar Project to Power Europe

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 29, 2014) — A solar energy project in the Tunisian Sahara aims to generate enough clean energy by 2018 to power two million European homes. Matt Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lowe's Testing Robot Sales Assistants in California Store

Lowe's Testing Robot Sales Assistants in California Store

Buzz60 (Oct. 29, 2014) — Lowe’s is testing out what it’s describing as a robotic shopping assistant in one of its Orchard Supply Hardware Stores in California. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

More Coverage


Single Molecules in a Quantum Movie

Mar. 25, 2012 — The quantum physics of massive particles has intrigued physicists for more than 80 years, since it predicts that even complex particles can exhibit wave-like behavior – in conflict with our ... read more

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins